Rosacea Basics

Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that causes redness and swelling of the face that can also affect the scalp, neck, ears, chest, and back. Eye symptoms (ocular rosacea) are also reported by half of people with rosacea.
Those afflicted with rosacea may first notice a tendency to flush or blush easily. The condition progresses to persistent redness, pimples, and visible, threadlike blood vessels (telangiectasias) in the center of the face. These skin changes can eventually spread to the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose.
Rosacea occurs most commonly in people 30 to 50 years of age. Although women have rosacea more commonly than men, men tend to suffer more severe forms.  Although rosacea’s cause remains unknown, it appears to involve a combination of genetics and environmental factors. It is not contagious.
Rosacea, also called acne rosacea, is different from the acne common in teenagers called acne vulgaris.
Even though rosacea afflicts an estimated 16 million people in the U.S., many are unaware that they have it. Signs and symptoms of rosacea include the following:
  • A tendency to blush or flush easily
  • Persistent redness in the center of the face
  • Small visible blood vessels (telangiectasia)
  • Bumps and pus-filled pimples on the face
  • Burning or stinging sensation on the face; the skin also may itch or feel tight
  • Dry skin on the face
  • Swelling on the central face
  • Eye problems, such as burning, itching, or watery eyes; swollen eyelids
  • Thickening skin on the nose, cheeks, and/or forehead
  • Rhinophyma-bumps on the nose that may develop if rosacea is left untreated
Early diagnosis and treatment of rosacea can control symptoms, alleviate discomfort and stop rosacea from progressing.  Without proper treatment, rosacea tends to worsen and can become disfiguring. Signs that rosacea is worsening include increasing redness, pimples, and/or thickening skin.  With treatment and lifestyle modifications, rosacea can be effectively controlled.

By: Jonathan S. Weiss, M.D.

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